Former England skipper Michael Vaughan feels that underfire wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler will be given the next two Tests of the West Indies series to prove his worth in the format and as part of the England lineup. Vaughan, however, reckons that Ben Foakes, the second-choice option for the role, is the better wicketkeeper.
Having made his Test debut in 2014, Buttler made an impressive return to the format in 2016 and continued the form in 2018, scoring a century and seven fifty-plus scores in the two years. But since 2019, his average dropped from 44.70 in 2018 to 25.10 that calendar year. And in 2020, he managed only 125 runs in seven innings with no half-century scores.
His poor form resulted in speculations over his place in the English lineup for the Windies contest. But while many predicted that Foakes would take over the role in Southampton, ECB named Buttler the vice-captain assuring his place at least for the opener.
"I suspect he will be given the series because I think England will win the second Test but Foakes is the better keeper and you can’t tell me he would not score the same amount of runs as Buttler has been managing recently in Test cricket," wrote Vaughan in his column for Telegraph.co.uk. "England have stuck with Buttler because of that belief and hope that he will fire like he does in one-day cricket."
Vaughan then drew similarity with his struggles to adjust to every format during his playing days. Vaughan felt that like he struggled to adapt to white-ball format, Buttler has been struggling to cement his spot in the red-ball format.
"Fundamentally, it reminds me of my white-ball career. I never thought I had the ability to play white-ball cricket properly. I did not wake up in the morning desperately wanting to improve as a white-ball batsman. I was a red-ball player. I just wonder whether Buttler is asking himself if red-ball cricket is for him? We might also be getting to the stage where the selectors think the same thing," he added.
Buttler looked however strong in ther opening innings at the Ageas Bowl last week, scoring a some 35-plus score at a brisk rate by charging against the pacers. Combining with stand-in skipper Ben Stokes, the pair had offered ample resistance against the Windies pace attack. In the second innings, he failed to make that impact and had departed quickly.
Vaughan wants Buttler to stick to his basic for the first 20 balls like Brian Lara did during his matches in England, and like he did in the first innings.
"My advice to him is to stick to the basics for the first 20 balls in Test cricket. Just play the way he did in the first innings in terms of mindset and balance. Just hang in to stay in for those first 20 balls. I heard Brian Lara say recently that in English conditions he used to give himself 20-30 balls to get in regardless of the situation. If one of the greats of the game is giving himself 20-30 balls why would anyone think that Buttler can crash it from ball one? It is impossible," he explained.
"It looked to me that in the second innings he came out trying to go after the bowlers. The fact is that in Test match cricket he has not proved that he is good enough to do that from ball one. There are slips in place. There are also greater consequences for making mistakes in Test cricket. He will be analysed more. In one day cricket in this era players are encouraged to play shots from ball one. They can bat with freedom and generally without consequences if they mess it up."